Pakistan beat NZ by 16 runs in first T20


New Zealand threatened Pakistan’s total of 171 for 8 through fifties to Colin Munro and Kane Williamson, but the many strands of Pakistan’s varied attack came together to truss up the hosts, 17 runs short of their target. The pace trio of Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul and Mohammad Amir created chances, while the spin of Imad Wasim, and Shahid Afridi provided economy. Mohammad Hafeez had earlier provided the base for Pakistan’s innings, with 61 from 47 balls from the top of the order.

Wahab was left to defend 20 runs from the final over, with Williamson on strike. He had the batsman caught at deep square leg first ball to effectively seal the match, before taking the final wicket of the innings off the last ball. New Zealand’s chase had begun slowly before being invigorated by Munro. They gave up most ground during the middle overs, when four middle-order wickets were lost for 18 runs.

Amir’s part in his international return was relatively low-key, but full of frustration. He had Williamson dropped off his bowling in the fourth over, then had another straightforward catch spilled towards the end of the match. He eventually took the wicket of Matt Henry in the penultimate over to finish with figures of 1 for 31 from four overs. Wahab claimed three scalps, Gul and Afridi took two wickets apiece, while Wasim returned 1 for 18 from his full quota.

Williamson had made a stuttering start to his innings, as Pakistan introduced spin as early as the second over – most likely to upset Martin Guptill’s rhythm in the early overs. Williamson was on two from six balls when he ran Guptill out in the second over, and then continued to progress slowly. He was 10 from 20 balls at one stage, and his first boundary came off the 36th ball he faced – as late as the 12th over.

In between Colin Munro had blasted 56 off 27 balls and got out. He sent six balls over the rope – memorably uppercutting Gul over third man in a fifth over that yielded 23 runs – as he reeled in New Zealand’s required rate. His departure heralded a middle-order collapse. Corey Anderson, Luke Ronchi, Grant Elliott and Mitchell Santner all fell in single figures.

Williamson attempted to resurrect the innings from 109 for 6 after 15 overs, but continued to lose partners just as he discovered fluency. He struck smart, square boundaries to keep his side alive, but was eventually out for 70 off 60 balls.

Perhaps wary of being fatally seduced by the size of the Eden Park boundaries, Hafeez saw out the first over, scoreless, then moved to five off ten balls before he became more ambitious. A lap-scoop off Trent Boult and a slap over the covers next ball moved him into a higher gear, before he plundered 18 runs off Corey Anderson’s first international over in six months, hitting three fours and a six on the off side.

That over helped lift Pakistan to 62 for 1 at the end of the Powerplay. Hafeez progressed at a more even pace when the field relaxed and New Zealand applied their spinners in tandem. Debutant legbreak bowler Todd Astle was the more expensive of the pair, as Hafeez and Shoib Malik lifted him over the rope in a three-over spell that cost 28. Having had Soahib Maqsood stumped first ball, then also taking the wicket of Malik, Santner didn’t give away a boundary in his four overs, which conceded just 14.

Hafeez mined the gaps in the outfield to near fifty, which he reached off 36 balls. He freed his arms again when pace returned to the attack, sending Boult over the covers again, then swatting a Milne bouncer to the wide long-on fence, but holed out at deep square leg off Milne’s next ball.

Shahid Afridi burned typically brightly for a typically brief period of time. He rocked the 16th over – bowled by Matt Henry – cracking two sixes and two fours in a span of four balls, but was out soon after. Having dropped a catch off Umar Akmal earlier, Kane Williamson held on to the chance from Afridi, leaving the batsman with 23 from 8 balls.

Having been 147 off 5 after 17 overs, Pakistan might have hoped for total in excess of 180, but good death bowling from Adam Milne and Henry in the two final overs thwarted those ambitions. Imad Wasim contributed a valuable 18 from 9 balls.